Statement on conclusion of Israel Folau Code of Conduct process

By Pete Fairbairn, 21.05.19

The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) acknowledges the conclusion of Israel Folau’s Code of Conduct (Code) process. The 72-hour period in which Israel had the right to appeal the sanction determined by the Tribunal, which was the termination of his playing contract, expired yesterday.

This is a sad outcome for Israel, his family, friends, teammates, opponents and all associated with Rugby in Australia and around the world. Israel leaves our game having played 96 Super Rugby matches, scoring a competition-record 60 tries, as well as representing his country in 73 Tests, scoring 38 tries, and winning three John Eales Medals.

As a diverse and inclusive membership association, RUPA’s formal responsibility has been to ensure that Rugby Australia (Rugby AU) adhered to the agreed procedures in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and Code, irrespective of the subject matter.  

RUPA’s first and foremost priority is the wellbeing of all professional Rugby players in Australia, past and present. RUPA will continue to support Israel to ensure that he, Maria and their broader family receive any personal support they need in this difficult transition from Australian Rugby.

RUPA notes that Rugby AU has not yet provided any clear or specific parameters to the professional playing group specifying how it expects individual professional players to express their faith and beliefs in manner acceptable to Rugby AU. 

To address this, RUPA will immediately establish and undertake an Expression of Faith & Beliefs Review alongside its’ players, incorporating advice from those with and without strong religious beliefs, with an aim to hold a first meeting of the review committee following the conclusion of the Super Rugby and World Rugby Sevens Series seasons

We will also invite both a Rugby Australia and a Super Rugby representative to participate in this RUPA-led Review, and we wholeheartedly urge them to take us up on this offer of collaboration and to contribute to a landscape with clearly established guidelines for players, which players can have confidence in.

RUPA appreciates the difficult position which this incident has placed on Israel’s teammates and the broader professional playing group, and we will continue to support each RUPA member.

RUPA remains proud of its diverse playing group and is committed to empowering and supporting each of its members to have conviction to express their faith and beliefs confidently.

Clearly, there remains a great deal of work to be done in relation to this subject, but what remains paramount and a non-negotiable is empowering all of RUPA’s members to feel confident in understanding their rights and their responsibilities when expressing their faith and beliefs.

Further information regarding the establishment of the Expression of Faith & Beliefs Review will be distributed following extensive consultation with the playing group.

Pete Fairbairn
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